As I mentioned in my post earlier this week, I am doing a few reviews this week on some of the more inexpensive or beginner fountain pens that I have used because I have seen many questions and comments from people who are skeptical or reluctant to try a fountain pen because they believe they will be too expensive, too messy, or just too difficult to write with. Hopefully my posts this week will help people who are curious about fountain pens to find something that they will want to try. I know from personal experience that finding a beginner fountain pen and getting started with it can be a little confusing and even a little intimidating.
The 2nd option for a beginner fountain pen that I think is good to get some experience with is the Platinum Preppy. This pen is just about the same price as the previously reviewed Pilot Varsity, however you get a little more feel for a regular fountain pen with it, because instead of just being a disposable with a sealed ink tank, they come with one cartridge of ink that you can replace down the road. You can find this fountain pen at JetPens.com for $3.00 and it comes in multiple colors, and as you can see from the link, they also offer the replacement cartridges for $1.50 for a pack of 2. Having the opportunity to change the cartridge in a fountain pen is something that I feel that many non-fountain pen users are a little hesitant about, and I think it is a good exercise in helping to understand that the cartridges are pretty clean and really dont make a mess when changing or using them. This is one of those myths about fountain pens that can sometimes make beginners a bit reluctant to start using them.
The above picture shows the pen deconstructed so you can see the nib on the left, and the cartridge on the right. Its pretty simple, you just unscrew the section which contains the nib, and as you slip the cartridge into the nib section, it punctures it and gets the ink flowing. Once past the initial loading of the ink cartridge, you can start to get a feel for the flexibility that a fountain pen can give you with the different types and colors of inks that are available, even though this particular one only takes the Platinum brand refills.
With the functional differences between the Pilot Varsity and the Platinum Preppy now evident, you can take a look at the writing sample with this pen. The Platinum Preppy is a pretty close match when it comes to the smooth writing experience and solid line that this pen puts down. I think the only real difference is that the line is just a bit finer as compared to the Pilot Varsity. The only other major difference between these fountain pens is that the Platinum Preppy seems to have a higher quality build and design to it. It has a very strong clear plastic body and a spring loaded cap that most likely will be better for keeping the ink from evaporating out of the pen. The nice thing about the clear plastic body is that it allows you to see the amount of ink left, unlike the Varsity.
I think it is important to note that there are plenty of other beginner fountain pens out there that offer similar functionality, quality, and value, however these are just some that I happen to have had good experiences with and are representative of the many others available. The next and last beginner fountain pen that I will review for this short series will be one that offers the most flexibility in the ink delivery methods and the writing experience, so stay tuned for that later this week.